As caregivers for our animals, we work hard to keep them healthy—with vet visits, healthy food, regular brushings and the like. But sometimes we forget that they, too, can show us important ways to stay healthy and happy every day. Here are 12 animal habits you need to emulate:
1. Exercise each day. Animals are masters at sitting around and chilling (see #2), but they also find joy in keeping their heart rates up. Hamsters run in their wheels, cats tear through the house like buffalos, and dogs bring their leash to you in their mouth. They remind us that exercise isn’t just healthy, but it can be fun, too.
Last week, the hashtag #SaveThePlanetIn4Words was trending on Twitter—and the Twitterverse came up with so many wonderful, insightful and often hilarious ideas! It got me thinking: What four words would I choose to save the planet? Here’s what I came up with:
I truly believe this world would be a better place if we all lived with compassion for all beings. Here are 10 more smart tweets that warmed my heart:
I remember the first time I saw a cow factory farming video my freshman year in college. I gave up beef on the spot and have gradually moved toward veganism ever since. My initial desire stemmed from a childhood instinct of loving animals and not wanting to harm them. But all these years later, I now know the issue goes way beyond that. The factory farming industry damages not just the animals, but our world, too. And it seems to be getting worse.
Our society was literally founded upon filling our bellies with meat (Thanksgiving, anyone?), but times have changed; the world is different now. Many scientists argue whether eating meat is even sustainable. Though many of us still aren’t ready to alter our thinking, for those who are, I’m here to tell you there is another way—a healthier, ethical way. Though this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, here are 10 ethical reasons to go vegetarian today:
Forbes recently did an article on the seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude—among them, feeling healthier, a boost in self-esteem and sleeping better. I know for myself, I’ve tried to live more mindfully and cultivate more gratitude in my life ever since fighting breast cancer, twice. But because living mindfully and embracing gratitude into our everyday lives doesn’t always happen seamlessly, here are six tips that really work for me:
1. Set your intention—choose gratitude. Because we have good days and not-so-good days, gratitude must be a choice. Make a point daily to acknowledge all that you are grateful for. Focus on the things you do have and that are going right. There is always something, even if it’s small. When the hard times come (and they will), this important life skill can help you cope.
2. Watch this TED Talk on nature’s boundless beauty and the importance of being grateful every day. This wonderful lecture, featuring cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg’s beautiful images and wise words, is absolutely inspiring and riveting. I especially love this part, where the narrator says: “You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day; it’s the one day that is given to you, today. It’s given to you; it’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”
3. Remember and hold close your favorite heartful quotes on gratitude. Here are a few of mine:
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” –Karl Barth
“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” –Aesop
“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” –Epicurus
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” –Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden
4. Help animals. Volunteering at a rescue will always help to inspire gratitude. First, it redirects your focus from “me” toward a sentient being in need of love and care. Second, spending time with gentle creatures naturally just opens your heart, which will help you to see things in a more positive light. And third, helping an animal that is sick, neglected or homeless can remind you to feel grateful for the basics we often take for granted: food, shelter, our health.
5. Start a gratitude journal. Or, if you already have one, commit to writing in it regularly. Your gratitude journal then becomes a lifeline you can cling to again and again when you need to remember all the abundances in your life you may otherwise have forgotten.
6. Practice patience. Yes, it’s annoying that you’re running late and the woman in front of you in line at the market has 20 coupons and is writing a check (if only she could find her checkbook). Or perhaps it’s a person driving too slow in front of you. Identify your hot buttons and next time, instead of reacting impatiently (or steaming on the inside), be mindful. Breathe, step back and use those precious extra moments to see the big picture. Count your blessings and revel in the beautiful gift that is right now.
What are you grateful for today?
I’m all for superfoods—you know, healthy ingredients high in nutrients that give your immune system and well-being that extra oomph. Kale, broccoli, quinoa: bring it on! But did you know, there are also a bunch of superfoods you can safely feed to your dog or cat? Next time I’m snacking, I won’t feel so guilty sharing a bite or two with my dog Mystic. Here are a few animal-friendly superfoods I’ve come across in my research:
1. Organic coconut oil: A spoonful a day can help allergies, improve their coat, support bone health, minimize dreaded “doggy breath” and more. Plus, you can also use it topically to sooth cuts and inflamed skin. For safe feeding, the recommend amount is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds body weight. (Too much can cause loose stools.)